For years, Division I athletes have been pouring their hearts out day after day, week after week, to protect the pride and tradition of their universities. With television contracts and shoe deals alone, the athletes are bringing in the money and other forms of revenue. Sure, you can say that the typical athlete’s scholarship is enough to compensate, but are they? A true athlete plays the game simply because he loves it. When you’re at the Division I level of sports, it is more or less a business and it is their job to make money for the school.
Also, these athletes give up many freedoms. For a given number of hours per week, they give their blood, sweat, and tears just to play a sixty-minute game or run two times around a track. Take these factors and combine it with the athlete’s academic responsibilities, and it’s a lot to account for.
When all is said and done, how much money does the athlete see? Well, aside from scholarships, zero.
I mentioned earlier that intercollegiate athletics is more or less a business in itself. Let me break it down for you. A business has different departments, the owner, the management, and your employees at the bottom rung making everything run smoothly. The owners of course have provided the money for the company, the managers run the company, and the laborers perform the work. I’ve never heard of a business that doesn’t pay its employees.
And of course no one would work for them if such a thing did exist. Most people think that an athlete should just be thankful for the education he receives in exchange for a few hours of practice. But an enormous amount of cash is being circulated within that school, at the athlete’s expense, which that athlete will never lay eyes on. Author and sports writer Steven Wulf says, “They are required to put in long hours of hard work for next to nothing, in hostile conditions, always under intense scrutiny of their bosses”. (Wulf)
Of course, this is a controversial topic, and there are obviously two sides to this argument: a side for and a side against the argument. “It is true that student-athletes aren’t your typical college students. They are unable to deposit that measly check most us work toward outside academic duties. Time and physical constraints do not allow these individuals living in a fish bowl to actively pursue a part-time job.” (Henry) Judy Runge, a coach for the women’s basketball team at the University of Oregon said, “I don’t know that I even care for the idea because it professionalizes college sports.” Why? The athlete is not asking for a yearly salary or weekly paycheck, but only a stipend or allowance. The only item that will make it professional would be making a college athlete to sign a contract saying if you perform “X” amount then we will pay you “Y” amount. I believe that Judy Runge explains the most common point of view of someone that really stands against college athletes being paid. I hate to say it, but her thoughts and her comment seem to be weak. My side of the argument of paying college athletes is far more superior and well supported with evidence.
Mike Belloti, the head football coach at the University of Oregon says, You already subsidize athletics it’s not going to make it anymore of a professional sport by giving them $100 per month to enable them to have a lifestyle that’s not even the average of some students.” (Henry) The average student can hold jobs and afford to experience the real college life, while the athlete spends his free time in the weight room or cramming for a final. According to NCAA rules, Section 2, Title V reads, “It is a violation of the NCAA rules for athletes to accept money or gifts while intending to remain eligible.” (NCAA) The NCAA is afraid that boosters and friends would offer athletes jobs, the possibility of a “no show” job. So the ability to hold a job is not possible. The athletes cannot work, even a second, and still be paid in wages. Most college athletes are on scholarships and receive money for their education, room and board. However, my point is that these athletes don’t have an opportunity to make money for their personal needs. Mike Belloti also mentions that, “Student-athletes deserve a little more money because they don’t get the opportunity to work during the year and their time frame is busy. Their scholarships cover tuition, books and board, but when you talk about phone bills, transportation, entertainment, laundry, toiletries, etc.- Student athletes just don’t have the opportunity.” (Henry)
We run into another deciding question of, what if college athletes were to be paid? Where would the money come from and is it possible to pay them all? College athletics is already a billion-dollar industry and has been for quite some time. The reason of course for the attention would be the ratings these college athletes are getting on television. I want everyone to understand this: Big time college athletes generate big time bucks. Since 1965, the NCAA increased its revenue by 8000 percent. (NCAA) CBS signed a contract through the year, 2002, for $72 million to cover the NCAA tournament. (Lipana) Now with all this money they’re making, why doesn’t any go towards their workers. The workers being the athletes on the field, the students that are making it all happen for one of the most profitable businesses in the world. No money for the athletes that are isolated from their peers and keep difficult hours of training and practice. Can my message be any more clear? I understand that these athletes get to go to college for free with their scholarships, but the money does not weigh properly compared to what they bring in and what is spent on them.
Recently, all over the nation, we hear of athletes leaving school early to play professional sports. And it’s simply because that these athletes can’t survive merely on their scholarship money. Athletes, similar to us, also have bills to pay, where do they get the money without a job. The cost of living or just making ends meet, forces the athlete to leave school and find work. That’s what happens when you play professionally, it becomes your work, your job. That’s what puts food on the table and money in the bank. Chris Weber, of the University of Michigan, had to scrap for money to go to the movies while his uniform jersey was being sold in the bookstore for $50 a pop. (Plummer) Athletes leaving school early has become a major problem in the most recent years. Most would be better served to stay in school, get an education, mature, and then go to the next level. The amount of money these players bring to the table is obscene, but yet they don’t see a penny of it. Dean Smith, former basketball coach at the University of North Carolina, made thousands of dollars, for himself and the school, by letting his players wear Nike shoes. Of course Smith’s players made nothing for making them popular. Where’s the players money? When I say they should be paid, I don’t mean millions of dollars, but rather a small stipend of maybe $100 per month. Many athletes come from single parent homes or the projects and barely have enough money to do the laundry. Simply paying for the tuition, room and board is not enough for many athletes.
Contrary to this point of view, an article states that, “If these athletes can’t wait for their agents to SHOW THEM THE MONEY, then they should by-pass college and go straight into either a minor league team or the pros. College should not be an arena for spoiled future millionaires, it should be a place to get an education. If you pay college athletes money, what kind of message does that send to an English major that is busting their butt to get an “A”? Why don’t we pay them $500 a month?” (Pandoras) Comparing athletes to students is unfair. It’s great that students are busting their rear end in the classroom as well, but do Nike and Reebok sponsor the student while studying. The university profits from the athletes, millions of dollars. To compare students to athletes is like comparing apples to oranges, no correlation. They’re not the same. When was the last time an “A” student was sponsored by Nike and the school made millions? It never happened and I’m very certain it never will. I’m sorry for being so rude about the subject matter, but I like to call it as I see it.
Whether it’s ethical or not, or whether it professionalizes college sports, the bottom line is that athletes juggle athletics with academics, while the average student makes his own money and enjoys it. Personally, I was brought up in a stable environment that was centered on morals and values. I was always taught to stand up for what I believe in, and for what I recognized was the right thing to do. My parents also taught me to be my own man, and to remember my family values in everything I do. My morals tell me that slighting someone of a credit or acknowledgement is wrong. It’s demeaning and oppressive. To work without pay is simply wrong. It sounds so evil, but that’s exactly what money is, sadistic in many senses. Did you know that the University of Michigan grosses over $20 million from football alone? In being able to formulate my own opinion for the student-athlete through research, I have become extremely sympathetic. Merchandise being sold with a specific athlete’s number on there, but yet that athlete doesn’t touch any of that green, this bothers me. I can’t lie, money is corrupting our society left and right, on every avenue in this country.
So should they, or shouldn’t they get paid? Some say yes, some say no. Just think of this: 6 days a week of enduring pains of tough workouts at practice, and later putting on your academic hat to fulfill education requirements. Of course, I believe the athletes should be paid, not because of the decision to play but because of rulings of the NCAA prohibiting athletes to hold jobs. How else do they make money? The athlete’s main accomplishments go unnoticed and the dedication to the school is unappreciated. The paying of athletes would not be a paycheck but rather a stipend for the entertainment and flash (money) that they bring along with them to the University.